Steve Clarke has the perfect opportunity to prove our brilliant start was no fluke when Reading come to town tomorrow, writes West Brom blogger Jarrod Hill.
The comedy of errors (horror show may be more apt) at Fulham was Steve`s first defeat since taking the reins at the Hawthorns and he will be keen to bounce straight back.
I along with everybody else watched in horror as Peter Odemwingie lashed out after totally losing his cool. He was having a bit of a stinker up to that point and his lash out looked to stem from pure frustration, but that certainly doesn’t justify his game changing mistake.
Peter has become a bit of hero at the Hawthorns but his recent media remarks, his disagreement with Roy Hodgson last season and Saturdays sending off are beginning to get on the breasts of many an Albion fan. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Albion hierarchy are already lining up potential suitors for his services in January and although I rate the player, maybe the timing would be right. This is no knee jerk reaction to one incident, I just feel that with other players at our disposal and a new and relatively in experienced head coach in place we need to ensure the dressing room stays free of trouble makers.
His suspension leaves a void to fill in the team, and there are a number of options available to Steve Clarke.
Personally I would prefer to see Chris Brunt playing on the left wing, I think he offers more defensively and is reliably consistent. He can also contribute from set pieces and having warmed the bench for the first few games of the season he must be itching to get involved. We also have Graham Dorrans, Yassine El Ghannassy, and Zoltan Gera to pick from, so the cupboard is hardly bare.
I will be interested to see who gets to start against Reading tomorrow. Billy Jones had a torrid game last week and with all three goals coming from the right side of defence Steve Clarke must be assessing his options. Right back is probably our weakest position within the squad, Steven Reid is injury prone, and Billy Jones and Gonzalo Jara are still too inconsistent to demand a regular starting berth.
Yet our head coach does have a number of options in all other positions and he has some tough decisions to make. There are players such as Zoltan Gera who has featured less than I imagined he would, and up front we have Romelu Lukaku who seems to be bursting at the seems to play. I think Steve Clarke has a tough choice and some difficult decisions to make for tomorrows game, and although I have refrained from doing so this season I have decided to give you who I would choose in my starting eleven.
I would go with a 4-5-1 formation. My defence would be Foster-Ridgewell-Olsson-McAuley-Reid (if fit). My midfield would be Brunt (wide left)-Mulumbu (centre)- Yacob (centre)-Gera (wide right)- Morrison (front centre).
My lone forward would be Romelu Lukaku, I think its time to see if this boy can start a game as well as he comes off the bench.
My subs would be Myhill-Jones-Dawson-Dorrans-Long-Rosenberg-Fortune.
If we can get control of the midfield and get the ball to our dangerous forward players on a regular basis I believe we will win the game. Reading have taken only one point from their first three games and if their confidence is faltering then we need to take advantage of it and an early goal would be ideal.
I managed to watch most of Reading’s game with Tottenham last week and I must admit I thought Reading looked to be struggling. However we all know there are no easy games in the Premier League, well not since Wolves were relegated anyway, and being an Albion fan I don’t expect us to do anything the easy way.
Just as we are looking at Reading as the perfect opportunity to continue our 100% home record, they too will be looking at us as an opportunity to get their first win of the season. Reading have some good players and with Nicky Shorey returning for the first time since his departure I am sure he will be looking to put one over on his old employers. I just hope it is Shane Long who has the bragging rights over his old team mates come 5pm Saturday and that Steve Clarke has navigated his team round a potential banana skin and three points have been safely deposited in our Premier League vault.
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